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What If.... An Outrageous Calculation?

Best F1 driver ever

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#1 Jens C. Lindblad

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Posted Feb 18 2018 - 05:58 AM

The ever returning subject: Who is/was the best F1 driver ever?

It is impossible to state objectively, and not quantifiable of course, but the subject always comes up and there are several lists available on the net, and regularly published in magazines like Autosport, Motorsport etc. and although the same names crop up the lists rarely agree 100 %

So much has happened in the evolution of cars and tracks, safety, technology, and reliability since the inception of Formula 1 in 1950 that I just made up the following ridiculous calculation, because I got into an argument of Facebook on this very subject.

I suddenly had the thought that if the "greats" of F1 had all been able to enjoy a career lasting 308 races, the number of races contested by Michael Schumacher, what might the results table look like?

The table should not be taken entirely seriously because it does not take into account what would happen if these greats where able to race each other, for example, had Senna not died at Imola, what would the impact have been on the results and careers of Schumacher and Senna.

Anyway, the table for some of the greats, assuming they all took 308 starts looks like this:

Fangio; 51 starts: 144 wins and 30 x WDC(!)
Jim Clark; 72 starts: 106 wins and 8 x WDC
Jackie Stewart; 99 starts: 84 wins and 9 x WDC
Michael Schumacher; 308 starts: 91 wins and 7 x WDC
Alain Prost; 199 starts: 78 wins and 6 x WDC
Ayrton Senna; 161 starts: 78 wins and 5 x WDC

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Edited by Jens C. Lindblad, Feb 18 2018 - 05:59 AM.


#2 Iestyn16

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Posted Feb 18 2018 - 08:56 AM

Simply put, any discussion on the best driver has to also include the car, something you can't do motorsport without.

Interestingly, a mathematical model - https://f1metrics.wo...e-rank-drivers/ - places 1-2 as Clark, Stewart, but lets see what happens once age-related effects are added to the model later this year. I imagine that would help Fangio for one..

#3 Bob Simpson

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Posted Feb 18 2018 - 09:06 AM

I see a potential flaw.

There have been 67 seasons of F1 and in that list alone, there are 65 WDCs.  Make that list a little bit longer and you'd have more WDCs than you have years. So the WDCs above get calculated compared to all the drivers in each drivers era only, putting us back at saying that Fangio was the best of his era, but how would it compare if Clark or Prost had anything to say about it.

#4 John Woods

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Posted Feb 18 2018 - 09:32 AM

A few days ago spent some time checking out stats on an F1 history site and it seems apparent the one thing that can be said without too much argument is based on the record the most successful drivers are from the UK.

Fangio without Maserati?
MS without Ferrari?
JImmy and Graham without Lotus?
(Yes I know Graham won with BRM also).

How to factor in Niki Lauda's comeback after Nurburgring accident?

Thanks Jens, for waking me up this morning with something to think about.


:D

Edited by John Woods, Feb 18 2018 - 09:41 AM.


#5 Bob Simpson

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Posted Feb 18 2018 - 09:36 AM

And yes, I agree that it's interesting to try to figure out and think about.  It's a tribute to all these great drivers to be considered. Maybe lump them all into "the greatest drivers" equally. Thanks for the new perspective Jens.

#6 Pete Gaimari

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Posted Feb 18 2018 - 09:54 AM

How a driver drove scores points with me too. It's not about just wins that makes a great driver. Some of those drivers who have high wins wouldn't even be on my list. Jimmy, of course, would be at the top.

#7 Josef Paul

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Posted Feb 18 2018 - 11:04 AM

Jens, that's a fun little thought experiment; the kind you might have at a pub while writing down your maths on a napkin. Thanks for sharing.

#8 Lee200

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Posted Feb 18 2018 - 12:28 PM

View PostBob Simpson, on Feb 18 2018 - 09:06 AM, said:

There have been 67 seasons of F1 and in that list alone, there are 65 WDCs.  Make that list a little bit longer and you'd have more WDCs than you have years. So the WDCs above get calculated compared to all the drivers in each drivers era only, putting us back at saying that Fangio was the best of his era, but how would it compare if Clark or Prost had anything to say about it.

Uh, don't understand Bob.  Through 2017, there have been 33 different champions in 68 seasons.

Nevermind, I understand what you're saying.  :)

Here are my lists for what they're worth.  Haven't updated them for last year, but not much changed.

http://gplmotorworks...st-Drivers.html

I agree with the F1Metrics study about Prost and Senna.  In my study, they are about equal, but down in 7th place or so.

Edited by Lee200, Feb 18 2018 - 12:31 PM.


#9 twinpotter

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Posted Feb 18 2018 - 04:56 PM

I don't think you can compare drivers through the eras. I think it's wrong to do so.

Rather compare the drivers within those eras. There are many more drivers that could be categorised that way.

After all Schumacher couldn't have done what Fangio had done and vica versa.

It's like saying a Triumph Bonneville is better than a Honda Fire blade. Because it's down to an individuals time zone and  technological availability at that time.

So the fifties Fangio, Moss and Ascari

Sixties, Clark, Brabham, Hill

Seventies, Stewart, Lauda, Peiterson

Eighties, Senna, Prost, Piquet

Nineties(Early noughties), Shumacher, Hakkinen, Villeneuve

Present day(Millennium) Hamilton,Alonso,Vettel

Agree or disagree. That for me is the better format.

TP:


#10 John Woods

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Posted Feb 18 2018 - 06:09 PM

Too bad we can't poll the manufacturers.
As I understand, Ferrari might well have said "none of them."
For sure it would have been, "the guy that doesn't wreck my cars."




:D

Edited by John Woods, Feb 18 2018 - 06:11 PM.


#11 Pete Gaimari

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Posted Feb 18 2018 - 07:22 PM

How many wins did Schumacher get by Barrichello giving it to him?

#12 Jens C. Lindblad

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Posted Feb 19 2018 - 08:50 AM

Thank you for taking my quick and dirty napkin calculus with such good spirits and humour. :wave:

Yes, it is crude and just another way of presenting a measure of hit rate, assuming no direct interference from competitors. As such it is perhaps more a ranking method than any serious attempt at projections.

No, it does not take into account if a certain driver won one or two championships with a car that was probably illegal. And it is also true that it does not take into account if a driver was gifted wins and championships by competitors or team mates (Fangio was also gifted race-wins and WDC's). Rather it assumes that as a general rule with some notable exceptions, an established no. 1 driver has been the case in history more often than not. Neither does it take into account if competing teams had drivers that took points off each other, thus enabling a third driver to take the win or the championship. It does not consider reliability, nor does it attempt to correct for a driver's life expectancy through the different eras. All these shortcomings are real and valid. The problem however is how to quantify such parameters? I submit that such calculations would really be getting into controversial territory.

Yes, a decadal approach would probably be more sensible, but this is all just in good fun.

And looking at the results of my crude attempt at ranking, I think it hits the mark pretty well, certainly just as well as the lists published by Autosport, Mortorsport, F1 Racing etc. It works well for me, even though I'm a Jackie Stewart fan, and Jackie isn't on top. :D :P

https://docs.google....dit?usp=sharing

Edited by Jens C. Lindblad, Feb 19 2018 - 09:22 AM.


#13 Pete Gaimari

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Posted Feb 19 2018 - 10:33 AM

One way to look at it is how did the driver do compared to his peers when he raced. They had similar cars and conditions. Fanzio certainly stands out. Senna's qualifying was outstanding. What stands out the most for me was the 67 Monza race. It shows what Jimmy could do if he drove close to his limit. It shows he wasn't near his limit for most if not all the races he won.

#14 John Woods

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Posted Feb 19 2018 - 10:44 AM

Immortalized by MECH btw check it out here:http://home.planet.n...comic_books.htm

Other factors could be used to place any driver on a scale.

Most races entered vs. completed?
Most advancements from grid to finish?
Least damaging errors?
Least DNFs?
Most lucky?


:D

Edited by John Woods, Feb 19 2018 - 10:47 AM.


#15 twinpotter

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Posted Feb 19 2018 - 11:31 AM

And most unlucky 🤔

aka Pete's comment on Barrichello.

Tend to agree with Pete. I think he was not only unlucky (as others were in history) but had to give up his place on numerous occasions.

Then again luck or no luck 'to finish first, first you must finish' 😁

TP:

Edited by twinpotter, Feb 19 2018 - 11:32 AM.





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